Tattoo Removal Question

I had a test spot done yesterday with an NDYag Laser on my black ink tattoo.I had swelling and redness but no scabbing and while the shading looks to have disappeared, there has been no change to the outline. Does this mean it is not working? Should I avoid following through with further treatments as I was expecting some change and told to expect scabbing. Is it normal to not see a change at all in the thicker tattoo outline? I am black with caramel colored skin so am cautious with this removal

Doctor Answers 5

Test spots for tattoo removal

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Test spots for tattoo removal are more to check for potential complications than they are for results, which takeiltie treatments to show - the YAG laser is the best laser for your skin type

Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 231 reviews

Laser Tattoo Removal

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NDYag is the best laser on the market for tattoo removal. Because of your skin tone, your treatment provider  likely erred on the cautious side with the power frequency- which was a good choice. With each treatment spaced 6-8 weeks apart, you will be able to see the progression. As well, if there are no complications with the power level, it can be increased each time you return for a followup treatment. Scabbing does not always result after a treatment and because you just did a small test patch, it's reasonable to have not seen much scabbing or  much of a change at this point. Stick with it and in the end, after multiple treatments, you should be quite pleased with the progress you'll be able to see.

Cory Torgerson, MD, PhD, FRCSC
Toronto Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 170 reviews

Laser Tattoo Removal

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Test spots can be tricky because with tattoo removal, it takes several treatments to fade a tattoo. With only one treatment in a small spot, it can be difficult to notice any change at all. Your skin can also react differently with each treatment. Sometimes it may scab or blister, and sometimes it won't. Your skin doesn't need to scab or blister in order to be effective. It takes about 6-8 weeks for your body to fade out ink particles that are broken up during a laser tattoo treatment. Shading usually does fade faster than a darker outline because there is less ink and the ink is more superficial.

Darker skin types do have a higher risk of skin discoloration with laser tattoo removal, so it is wise to start at a low setting and gradually increase at each treatment. Sun avoidance is highly recommended as well.

A q-switched nd:yag laser is considered the gold standard.

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Don’t Give Up After One Treatment for Laser Tattoo Removal

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We do look for pinpoint bleeding with the 1064 YAG treatment, which would lead to a little bit of scabbing. However, for the first time, we don’t want to turn up the energy too high on the laser, otherwise you could get scarring. This is particularly true for African Americans because the pigment in your skin can be recognized by the laser. So, it is not unusual to not have scabbing after your test treatment. With each subsequent treatment, they will increase the energy if you aren’t having any complications. We prefer to have less complications and more frequent treatments, as opposed to more aggressive treatment that could possibly lead to complications.


Timothy Jochen, MD
Palm Springs Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Tattoo removal

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It is usually at least several weeks before the effectiveness of any single laser tattoo removal treatment can be fully assesed. Further, where tattoo pigment has been more densely applied, such as in a black outline, it may take several treatments before it appears that anything is happening. You should speak to the physician who is performing your treatments as they should be able to clearly explain the mechanics of the process, the limitations and what are the realistic expectations you should have along the way.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.